After only a quarter of a mile, I heard it--breathing.
I knew it was a man's breathing, and his steps sounder a bit heavier than mine, but had the same, fierce clip to them. I sensed him closing in on me, so I did what any girl would do; I sped up.
He adjusted his pace accordingly. His footfalls matched mine strike by strike, and I thought, I am NOT going to let some jerk smoke me and steal my lone, stretch of sidewalk by this mundane and grey power plant, so I sped up again. I was running faster than my lazy legs had wanted to when I began the morning--groggy, grouchy, and sloth-like. In a rush, I only had a small glass of milk before setting out. I didn't plan on being gone for very long or challenging myself. Now I wished I had more energy to prevent this stranger, this impromptu competitor from beating me on my own, safe course.
I rounded the corner of the power plant and crossed onto the bike trail along the water. I expected to catch a side glimpse of my heavy-breathing opponent and saw nothing. I pressed on for the same pace for about another tenth of a mile just to be certain, and then I raced up the steps into Astoria Park and looked back down at the bike path, seeing only an old man walking a shitsu.
Good, I thought. I win.